We all remember the dazzling young-ish Obama of the 2008 election and the excitement that surrounded him. Shepard Fairey’s “Hope” made his image literally iconic and it was hard not to be anything but ecstatic about this candidate after the eight-year tenure with George W. Bush. In comparison to 71-year-old McCain, Obama looked like a vivacious celebrity. Grassroots campaigning had never been so successful and people everywhere were sporting Obama shirts. As evidenced by the polls, those who had never voted before- especially young people and minorities came out to vote in masses. Obama was a superstar and his easy victory went to show.
Fast-forward from Obama’s 2008 campaign to four years later and we can see that just as his hair has greyed, the public’s love affair with him has greyed as well. Similar to a new song that you listen to too often, the original enthusiasm and support that defined Obama’s 2008 campaign has given way to a sense of indifference. The new unconventional advertisement Wake the F*** Up made by Adam Mansbach, who also wrote the famous adult children’s book Go the F*** to Sleep, is the answer to this apathy. While it is a bit cliché and certainly bizarre, it is a very telling portrayal of the magic spark which Obama seems to have lost with the American public. More importantly, however, it serves to remind to us all the importance of political participation.
This video contains explicit language
Narrated by the famous Samuel L Jackson and filled with explicit language, Wake the F*** Up is meant to shock people and catch their eyes in order to urge them to actively support Obama’s re-election. The video cleverly shows how Obama versus Romney will affect each age and gender group- mentioning planned parenthood cuts to the older sister, college financial aid to the brother, and Medicare to the grandparents. However, the tone of the story seems to embody more of how bad it will be if Romney is president, rather than how great it will be with Obama. However, given the economic circumstances and 8.3% unemployment rate, this strategy is understandable and the message still works. The other interesting aspect of this video is that it is directed mainly at people who supported Obama in 2008, making it clear just by the necessity of this video, that there is a huge difference in Obama’s popularity then versus now. With powerful lines such as,
“Sorry, my friends, but there’s no time to snore. An out-of-touch millionaire has just declared war. On schools, the environment, unions, fair pay. We’re all on our own if Romney has his way. And he’s against safety nets, if you fall, tough luck. So I strongly suggest that you wake the f—k up.”
the short “children’s” story smugly seeks to remind the viewer why they voted for Obama in the first place and why they need to do it again with a sharp emphasis on the unacceptability of their current indifference. Through underlying the closeness of this race and evoking an “anyone-but-Romney” mentality, an urgency and sense of panic is immediately placed on any voter who was thinking twice about Romney.
Despite its partisan view, this film can be seen as a strong encouragement to voters of all types on all issues. A candidate or an issue that may be trendy to support at one time does not mean it can be abandoned later. The Electoral College still works the same way and if the votes aren’t there, then it doesn’t matter how much you canvassed in 08. It’s motivating to see this new, unpolished take on politics. Whether tired, or busy, this is our country and the only way to actualize ones rights as a citizen is to actively participate in politics. So like Samuel L Jackson eloquently said, America, “Wake the F*** Up”.